13 July 2024 | 11:36 PM

Chief whip’s family suspect murder

Key Takeaways

The family of the slain chief whip of Mpumalanga’s Ehlanzeni district municipality, Johan Ndlovu, believes that he was murdered because of a political battle being waged for positions ahead of the local government elections.

Ndlovu is the latest victim of what appears to be politically motivated hits in Mpumalanga.

He was shot dead in the early hours of January 5 at Edinburgh Village in Bushbuckridge.

His older brother, Joseph, told the Mail & Guardian that Johan’s death was owing to the political battle over nominations in local government elections.

“The Bohlabela region was compiling a list of nominations for the coming elections,” Joseph said.

“He was earmarked to take over as mayor of Ehlanzeni district municipality. Those with political ambitions in the region have the answers to his death,” he said.

Three suspects — Bongani Mkasi (27), Life Khoza (22) and Mundi Khoza (23) — have been arrested and have appeared in the Mhala Magistrate’s Court.

Police previously claimed that there was nothing to link the suspects to any political party. However, the M&G has established that two suspects arrested with the other three and later released are ANC local branch committee members.

One of the suspects, whose identity is known to the M&G, is a relative of a member of the Bushbuckridge mayoral committee.

She had to flee her home after he was arrested when it was attacked by a mob from the local community.

A total of 39 people were arrested in connection with public violence during the incident.

Both suspects released for lack of evidence are linked to a kidnapping and robbery case in Pilgrim’s Rest.

The day after the two were released, another suspect, John Ndlovu, was arrested. Ndlovu is accused of arranging for the three men to carry out the killing.

When the four appeared in court on January 26, the national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, was in court, but did not take part in the proceedings, which resume on March 30.

About 16 politicians have been killed in Mpumalanga since 1998.

The highest-profile murders were those of Mbombela (Nelspruit) local municipality speaker Jimmy Mohlala, gunned down at his Kanyamazane home in January 2009, and the head of communication for the arts and culture department, Sammy Mpatlanyane, killed in January last year.

The speaker of Ehlanzeni municipality, Caswell Maluleke, who was shot on April 2000 and spent eight months in hospital, said he was still seeking answers for his attack.

The suspects arrested in his case were released because of a lack of evidence.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi

Mhaga said the motive for the killings had not yet been established, but he said that there seemed to be an increase in the killings of politicians in the province.

“It has prompted the NDPP to undertake to assign a highly qualified prosecutor to deal with these cases. He is happy with the progress that the police task team has made so far. He also attended the court appearance.”

National police commissioner Bheki Cele has appointed a 12-man team to investigate the murders.

This article was produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest. www.amabhungane.co.za.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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